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3. “When the activity requires a nationwide uniformity of policy that cannot be achieved by interstate action.” The planning of Interstate and National Defense Highways involve the application of uniform national policy.

4. “When a State through action or inaction does injury to the people of other States.” On this ground, national action can be justified to prevent unrestrained exploitation of an essential natural resource, such as forest land or water supplies.

5. "When the States fail to respect or to protect basic political and civil rights that apply throughout

the United States." 6. "Some of the underlying reasons for national participation flow from the simple fact that some types of information may not be available or usable at all unless gathered at a central point." Examples are a national fingerprint file, or the national censuses of population, housing, and economic activity.

7. "Money is the focus of another set of reasons for national participation in certain fields of service where a strong national interest is identified. The most inclusive areas of government may properly take account of the uneven distribution of local resources when the desirability of universal minimum levels of service is established."

These general principles have many applications to metropolitan problems. The resources needed to meet social and economic problems of metropolitan areas are, in large part, available within these areas, but because they are unevenly distributed they are not necessarily available to those parts of the area most in need. The Advisory Commission has concluded that these problems will not be solved simply by transferring funds and functions among jurisdictions in metropolitan areas, and that a nationwide approach is needed. Both Federal and State Governments have a crucial role to play in better matching local capacity to meet pressing needs.

In the field of relocation, many cities have lagged in offering effective assistance. More than half the States have not chosen to make highway relocation payments or are making payments below the maximum for which Federal reimbursement is available. From this record, the Commission concludes that assumption of National Government responsibility is essential to assure a uniform and equitable approach toward relocation assistance in federally aided programs.

Where Federal action is justified, other issues arise concerning the nature of Federal participation and the administration of Federal programs. The major form of Federal help in metropolitan areas is the grant-in-aid : financial assistance to a State or local government for use in a specified manner that will help to achieve some national objective. As a condition of this assistance, the Federal Government establishes program requirements and provides administrative supervision. In principle, the grant-in-aid dates from the Ordinance of 1785, in which the Congress of the Confederation authorized grants of land for schools to local governments. Today there are some 120 Federal grant-in-aid programs, most of which are applicable within metropolitan areas. Grants-in-aid are used to help the disabled and the elderly, demonstrate new techniques of medical care, support vocational rehabilitation, provide school lunches, build highways and airports, and meet a broad variety of social and economic needs. In some programs, the Federal Government finances all or almost all the costs; in others the Federal share is small. By 1964, total annual Federal grants-in-aid to States and local governments reached $10 billion.

The Federal grant-in-aid is an important instrument for carrying out the partnership concept inherent in the federal system. It reconciles State and local administration of public services with Federal financial support in programs of national concern. Grants-in-aid, conditioned on performance requirements, make possible the achievement of national goals without overextending the Federal bureaucracy and without Federal assumption of State and local functions. By means of grants-in-aid, the Federal Government has not only been able to support existing State and local functions, but to stimulate the States and localities to expand their own programs and to undertake new ones.

Federal grants-in-aid can also have many secondary effects within metropolitan areas. In addition to stimulating or helping local and State governments to perform the functions that are the main object of a program, the conditions under which aid will be available may stimulate other forms of governmental activity. When Federal administrative policies favor special districts as the recipients of grantsin-aid, the result may be the formation of new special district governments. Regulations that do not authorize joint participation in a program by two or more local governments may effectively discourage cooperative approaches. Requirements that localities receiving grants-in-aid must undertake comprehensive urban planning tend to strengthen the planning function in local government. In administering grants-in-aid, the Federal Government has an obligation to draw up administrative regulations that will encourage local actions to cope with metropolitan problems rather than actions that obstruct efforts to deal with them.

It is also incumbent upon the Federal Government to coordinate its many activities in metropolitan areas with one another and with State and local programs, if only to assure that they are not in conflict with one another and that Federal expenditures do contribute to sound community development. For this purpose, a number of Federal programs either require local planning as a condition of aid or offer incentives to encourage it. The planning that is encouraged in this way is sometimes limited to the function covered by the grant-in-aid, or in several cases it is comprehensive urban planning covering all major physical development programs in the community. In most programs with planning requirements, the planning that must be undertaken applies only to the local government receiving aid. In a few programs, metropolitanwide planning is required or encouraged. Requirements for specialized planning of the activity covered by the grant were first prescribed in the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which conditioned aid for cooperative agricultural extension on a plan for administering the extension programs. Requirements for comprehensive and area wide planning are much more recent and have been growing in number during the past few years.

The Advisory Commission has recommended that Federal grant-inaid policies, as well as direct financial assistance, be used to encourage



comprehensive planning at the metropolitan level. It may be argued that this use of Federal policy invades the prerogatives of the States or that it will force local cooperation where there is no desire to cooperate. The Commission believes, however, that the time has come to insure cooperation among local units of government in metropolitan areas. Although the main burden for insuring this cooperation rests properly with the States, metropolitan planning incentives can serve both to reinforce State efforts and to assure improved coordination of Federal programs.

The general principles that the Commission advocates for grant-inaid programs are that they should be administered to promote: (1) policy coordination at the Federal level, (2) local planning for comprehensive urban development, (3) local planning for each aided function, (4) joint planning and performance of work by localities to meet common needs within governmentally fragmented urban areas, (5) general units of local government rather than special-purpose units, and (6) organizational flexibility within general units of local government receiving aid. Several of these criteria are derived from principles to be discussed later in this chapter.

Another major issue concerning Federal aid to States and localities is the extent to which Federal contributions should vary according to the capacity of each recipient government to raise funds for participating in these joint programs. Equalization features in grant programs may take account of these differences by varying either the allocation of Federal funds or the requirement for local matching shares in jurisdictions with different abilities to raise revenue. Where there are no equalization provisions in a Federal grant-in-aid program, wealthier States and communities can take advantage of the Federal offerings with comparative ease, while poorer States can do so only by taking on relatively heavier tax burdens. Without equalization provisions, Federal aid is unlikely to work in the direction of achieving a national minimum level of service. Further, some localities with relatively low fiscal capacity earmark a high share of their resources to aided programs, to the detriment of services for which Federal grants are not provided. Under these circumstances, pressures often arise for a general enlargement of the Federal share of costs, for direct Federal program operations, and for unmatched Federal grants.

The Commission has concluded that the national policy considerations that require Federal grant programs require also that, as a general principle, the distribution of Federal grants should take account of relative inequalities in the fiscal capacities of State and local governments. The purpose here is not to achieve an overall equalization of income or resources among State and local governments, but rather to achieve a more uniform level of minimum program standards. The philosophy of federalism recognizes a national concern with the adequacy of State and local preformance in services affecting national strength and welfare, but it does not seek interstate uniformity in either the total levels of governmental service or in the level of taxes. Each State has a right to set its own expenditure levels and to minimize-or maximize its dependence on Federal aid. Differences in program levels are a positive result of local self-determination. There are grounds for equalization, however, when such differences are incompatible with essential national policy objectives as determined by Congress.


These principles of State and Federal action can serve as the basis for recommending State and Federal action directed toward the problems of metropolitan areas. A more complete political philosophy for metropolitan action also requires a complementary set of principles applying to local governments within metropolitan areas. Some of the same principles concerning the distribution of governmental authority can be adapted to the local level, but other issues must also be considered. Among these are the values and limitations of local home rule; policies concerning special district governments; and the implications of social and economic disparities in metropolitan areas.


Recent developments in metropolitan areas have divested the concept of home rule of much of the sanctity it possessed at various times in the past. The values of maximum citizen participation and local control implicit in home rule are in tension with the limited ability of small units of government to meet modern service standards, with the spread of public policy concerns to the metropolitan scale, and with the poor public performance that often results from divided authority. Effective local control the goal of home rule advocates-often requires a larger jurisdiction than the typical local unit in a metropolitan area. The Kestnbaum Commission has noted:

Self-determination in one isolated local unit of a large community often restricts the opportunity for genuine home rule in the whole community.

Unfettered local control can be injurious to local as well as to broader interests. For example, it is generally agreed that houses cost more than they need to because local building codes, sanitary regulations and inspections, licensing requirements for artisans, and zoning and subdivision controls are often inadequate, outmoded, or conflicting. Complete home rule with respect to these matters by ill-equipped local units has been frustrating for the building industry and the public, and has produced complications for National and State housing programs.

The case for local home rule rests upon such considerations as controllability, accessibility to the public, and citizen participation-all of which are held to be promoted most successfully by small units of government. These are important values, but they must be balanced against other considerations. First, it is not clear whether they are in fact best served by small home-rule units. Larger, more diverse communities also serve important political values in minimizing the likelihood that any one group will dominate the government and increasing the opportunity for all groups to have their interests respected. Other considerations center around economies of scale in performing urban functions and the need for adequate space to cope with many responsibilities. Still other limitations of local home rule arise from the close functional interrelationships that exist in metropolitan areas. Many problems have grown beyond

& Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, op. cit., pp. 54-55.


city limits, but the city's power to cope with a situation ends abruptly at its boundary lines. In addition to local inability to provide many services, individual communities may damage their neighbors' interests by their own policies—by excluding moderate-cost housing or polluting rivers, for example.

The complexity of metropolitan problems and the inability of many smaller units to cope with them defeats the theory of local home rule and popular control, as well as the ability of local government to provide services. Where everybody is concerned but no one unit has the power to act, what purpose is served by local popular control? The Commission shares the view expressed by Luther Gulick that municipal home rule in the mid-20th century is not the right to be left alone behind legally defined bulwark, but rather the right to participate as an equal partner in arriving at decisions which affect community life. This concept was stated more fully by Hugh Pomeroy:

Local governmental autonomy can have justification-and, ultimately, validity-only as it is accompanied by responsibility, a realization by the individual municipality, government, and people, of being an integral part of an intercommunity composite, with an acceptance of obligations based on that relationship. And the primary obligation is that of accepance of some limitation of freedom of action in the interest of the greater good. Home rule, in the view of the Commission, is by no means an absolute principle of local government today, but must be modified within a metropolitan context.

FRAGMENTATION VIA THE SPECIAL DISTRICT Special districts responsible for schools, utility services, or other functions are a prominent feature of the governmental landscape in metropolitan areas, accounting for more than 60 percent of the local units in these areas in 1962. These districts play an important role in metropolitan government, as their prevalence suggests. Generally they are created to provide a specific service when existing units of general government (cities, towns, counties) are either not providing it or not doing so in an acceptable way. An additional factor of some importance is that special districts represent a way of avoiding State restrictions concerning debt limitations or other restraints on units of general government.

The creation of a special district is a relatively easy and direct way of satisfying a particular service need. The public appears to be satisfied with the services they receive from these districts, and most are meeting the needs that led to their creation. Despite this positive performance, however, special districts frequently give rise to intergovernmental problems and hamper the effective coordination of local government services as a whole.

Special districts that are responsible for a single service or function never have occasion to weigh a variety of service needs against available resources. Each tends to set standards independently and to advance its own claims to tax dollars. Further, the splitting of urban responsibilities into separate governments often leads to

Hugh Pomeroy. "Local Responsibility". (an address hefore the Nutional Conference on Metropolitan Problems, East Lansing, Mich., Apr. 29, 1956).

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